Abstracts: Hendra virus and horse owners – risk perception and management

Hendra virus is a highly pathogenic novel paramyxovirus causing sporadic fatal infection in horses and humans in Australia. Species of fruit-bats (genus Pteropus), commonly known as flying-foxes, are the natural host of the virus. We undertook a survey of horse owners in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia to assess the level of adoption . . . → Read More: Abstracts: Hendra virus and horse owners – risk perception and management

Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Anna Bligh.

Anna Bligh.

The Queensland Government had made significant changes to the way it handled Hendra virus outbreaks well before the ombudsman released a critical report, Premier Anna Bligh said.

Ombudsman Phil Clarke’s report highlighted inadequate communication between veterinarians and horse owners.

Clarke said systemic failures had hampered the Labor government’s response to six Hendra outbreaks between June 2006 and October 2009.

The report, released early this month, identified outdated policies and procedures, and overlapping legislation that led to inconsistent quarantine practices.

Training and resources for government agency staff, contractors and property owners were lacking.

Records of decisions made were also inadequate and there was a poor framework for compensation payments

Bligh said the report analysed how historic cases were handled, and ignored how government agencies had responded to the most recent incidents.

“They date back several years and there’s been a very significant shift in the way the matter’s being dealt with now,” she said.

“Nevertheless, when things like this happen you learn from it.”

Clarke found some Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries staff had imposed quarantines contrary to law, and were uncertain about what personal protective equipment to use and how to employ it.

The report dealt with 18 horses which died or were euthanased, two vets who died from Hendra, and a third vet who contracted the virus but recovered. Continue reading Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Further victims as Hendra outbreak continues

While Queensland and NSW authorities continue the struggle to control the latest hendra outbreak, the virus claimed an unexpected victim almost six weeks after the first case was detected.

Towards the end of July a pet dog from a property where three infected horses had already been found tested positive to Hendra antibodies, and was subsequently put down.

At the time of writing Hendra had claimed the lives of at least 15 horses in Queensland and NSW, while over 60 people were still being monitored for signs of infection, including several vets.

All four species of fruit bats found in Australia are carriers of the Hendra virus.

Queensland’s chief vet Rick Symons said it was unclear how the two-year-old kelpie had contracted Hendra, but it did not necessarily indicate the virus was evolving. Continue reading Further victims as Hendra outbreak continues